Rick Whitener and his mother, Kathy Dawn, always knew they wanted to own a business someday.
After they, along with Dawn’s husband, turned an amazing profit flipping a house in 2007, they decided to open a laundromat and pay the price for their on-the-job education during the fall of the economy.
“During the seven years of pure grinding and working other full and part-time jobs simultaneously just to make rent, we had plenty of time to rethink what would make us happy to do every day,” Whitener said. “It didn’t take long to realize to be successful we had to do what we believed in and that was not dirty laundry.”
Whitener decided it was best to find a job that represented his core beliefs: promoting kindness. On Apr. 20 of this year, Good People was officially established.
Good People offers an array of hippie items such as tie-dyed shirts, stickers, sage, singing bowls and incense. It is also the only retailer in Knoxville that sells Peace Frogs merchandise.
“People are wanting a way to show that they stand apart from the noise and the hate, and if they want to do it while sporting a cool tie-dye, we would love to be a part of that,” Whitener said.
According to Whitener, choosing South Knoxville for the shop’s location was a “no brainer,” as it adds to the culture that is already offered.
“From day one we had locals stopping by while we were putting the store together because they saw peace signs and tie-dye,” Whitener said. “Even with brown paper blocking our windows, people would peek in and tell us to hurry up and get open.”
Whitener added that with Ijams, SoKno Taco, Alliance Brewery and other current developments, West Knoxville is no longer the only “place to be.”
Whitener added that perhaps the only confusing aspect of opening a shop decked out in tie-dye is people believing it is a smoke shop.
“There’s plenty of shops that fill that void,” Whitener said. “The Smoke Stack is virtually across the street from us and we constantly send people their way. Likewise, we have Curiosities Metaphysical Shop just right down from us on Chapman Highway and it is a wonderful shop that sells crystals, spiritual goods and other natural products that our customers are really interested in.”
Whitener said he is more interested in working together with these surrounding shops than trying to compete, adding that he believes South Knoxville has room for a shop like he has, and small business owners need to stick together.
“At the shop, we have a large back room that is available at no cost to people needing a space to teach classes or workshops,” Whitener said. “We know that there are local craft makers and artist that don’t or can’t have a full-time location and we want to support them.”
Whitener and Dawn have led several community efforts, such as “Good People Clean Up Knoxville,” and sponsoring a “dog of the week” at local animal shelters to help them get adopted.
“We cannot express the gratitude we have for the good people of South Knoxville for reassuring us that we were making the right choice,” Whitener added.

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